CFN – Claude McIntosh & Andre Rivette led the charge against Art funding at the Budget Committee meeting Monday. Groups had ten minutes only to sing for their supper with some follow up questions with Bernadette Clement chairing.
For disclosure purposes I am on the board of our Art Gallery that has run for 30 years on City funding chiefly. I also, along with chair Wyatt Walsh, presented to council on a document prepared by councilor Elaine MacDonald who was TAG’s president at the time she wrote the submission and made sure it was submitted on time. I am not writing this on behalf of TAG and this is not the view of the board of the gallery. It is my own personal opinion.
The City of Cornwall went into debt by funding the $30M + Benson Centre with lip service paid to the Arts and talk of an Art Centre. During the election both this term and last there was much talk of supporting the arts and how important they are to a growing economy, especially in a city that stagnantly sits below 50,000 in population.
Nearby Brockville, a city of half our size has seen its lovely Art Centre attract talent that by passes Cornwall and has seen development all around it. Artists like Jann Arden appear there and do not attend Cornwall.
TAG is the city’s defacto Art Centre as humble as it is. It’s downtown. It’s been in the same location for over 20 years of its 30 years of existence and has seen some of the most talented artists in our region displayed. It’s normal dollar support has been a tiny $70K per year which was cut to about $56K last year. The Budget Committee now has recommended that it be cut to the $13,500 it has provided TAG this year.
This year TAG has a very strong board with people on it with long and historic ties to the art community. There’s actually excitement right now. Where we had a poorly attended AGM (are there AGM’s that are not poorly attended? ) we actually have complaints from some that the can’t attend our info session without joining the gallery first.
Mr. Walsh and myself did the best would could in 10 minutes to share about the new board and the new goals to amp up the gallery only to be met by questions and comments not related to our presentation. Missing were Mayor O’Shaughnessy, and councilors Mark MacDonald and David Murphy.
Oddly enough Councilor Towndale abstained from voting from what seemed to be a lynching of the arts at this committee. Councilors Elaine MacDonald, Carilyne Hebert, and Brock Frost recused themselves. MacDonald and Hebert were part of the last board. I have no idea what conflict that Mr. Frost would have? He recently saw his motion for the city to hire a new Arts Coordinator fail. The City’s last AC is joining the board of the Gallery.
I think it was Councilor Rivette that raised the question if they still were in Quorum as we only had Chair Clement, and Councilors Rivette, McIntosh, Towndale, and Dupelle to pitch to.
Also disturbing has been the TMZ like witch hunt that Todd Lihou and the TC media owned Seaway Media seem to have against the Gallery and its Executive Director Sylvie Lizotte. All you have to do is search for gallery related stories and you can see a clear bias and position. Bias is fine in opinion pieces, but in news pieces?
Even myself, who practices Gonzo journalism will give the other side a chance to comment. Mr. Lihou raced out of the session yesterday and had a story live before I got home. I had joked with our President about how a certain phrase he used could be twisted and there enough was Mr. Lihou’s piece.
Council as a whole get to review the decision of the budget committee. Hopefully wiser minds given a moment for somber thoughts will prevail.
You can’t say you want to support the arts and how important they are to a community, and they are, and then not support your arts council and public gallery.
If you care about the arts in our city and wish to reach some of the Negative Nellies you can email them at
And if you value the history of TAG in Cornwall please drop by the info session tonight (March 10, 2015) at 7 PM. If you aren’t a member it’s only $25 per year to support the arts in your community.